Coyotes hang on for win
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera’s Joseph Saldivar flies through the air for a first down during Thursday’s 7-6 victory over Hanford.
HANFORD — With both teams scoring in the first quarter, Madera and Hanford looked to be locked in a shootout, but neither team found the end zone the rest of the game and the Coyotes picked up their second straight victory.
The difference in Thursday’s contest was the extra point. Madera’s Breesa Meza made hers. Meanwhile, Akram Pacheco-Lopez came from the edge and blocked Hanford’s kick for a 7-6 victory at the Neighbor Bowl in Hanford.
“We’re nowhere near where we want to be,” head coach Yosef Fares said. “We have to continue to get better. We got through a tough part of our schedule. We can enjoy this win for a day and get right back to it to get ready for Merced. That’s the Governor’s Hat. That’s a big one for us.”
The Coyotes gained more than 300 yards of total offense (308) and averaged 5.8 yards per play, but were able to find the end zone just once.
“Those are things we have to continue to work on,” Fares said.
Hanford gained 227 yards, but 117 came on the legs of Travon Houston, who carried 21 times. However, the Bullpups averaged just 4.1 yards per play and punted six times.
“They had that big running back,” Fares said. “It was like a boxer throwing his jabs. We threw our jabs and got our legs under us and came back to play pretty good football.”
Colt Nelson led the Madera offense, going 16-of-30 for 219 yards. He ran in Madera’s lone touchdown. Jayson Regua gained 44 yards and Joseph Saldivar came in late to close out the game with 37 fourth quarter yards.
“Joseph was very big for us,” Fares said. “I’m happy that he was there. Jayson will get going. He had a good game. He’s a good kid and he’ll respond back.
The Madera defense set the tone of the game from the start by forcing Hanford into a three-and-out. Tackles from Michael Brocchini, Matt Ylarregui, Raelon Hill and Anthony Gonzalez forced a third down. Brocchini and Gonzalez combined on a sack to force a punt.
On the first offensive play for the Coyotes, Regua went up the middle, juked to his left and gained 20 yards. On third-and-10, Nelson hit Joziah Velasquez on a screen pass for 22 yards and a first down.
Nelson hit Regua coming out of the backfield for an 18-yard gain behind a downfield block by J.J. Espinoza.
On fourth-and-gal from the four, Nelson gathered in a high snap, tried to hand off to Regua, but kept the ball while escaping a tackler. He went to his left into the end zone for the touchdown to cap off a nine-play, 64-yard drive. Meza’s extra point gave the Coyotes a 7-0 lead with 6:35 left in the first quarter.
Hanford then went on their longest drive of the game, 13-plays, 80-yards. Houston carried four times on the drive for 38 yards. Hanford earned four of their 13 first downs in the drive. Jupri Hughes got the carry on third-and-8 and went up the middle for the touchdown.
However, on the extra point, Akram Pacheco-Lopez broke in from the right side and blocked the extra point attempt and Madera led 7-6 with nine seconds left in the first quarter.
Madera earned two first downs on its next drive, but turned the ball over on downs at the Hanford 28-yard line.
After Madera got a three-and-out, the Coyotes started another drive. An 11-yard pass to Velasquez and a 19-yard pass to Hernandez gave the Coyotes a first down in Hanford territory. Two plays later, Nelson was intercepted on a long pass down the sideline.
Hanford changed its quarterback and he ran the ball on four straight plays for 31 yards. Madera’s defense stiffened and forced a punt.
Hanford drove the ball inside the Madera 15-yard line. Houston opened the drive with a 19-yard gain. The Bullpups went backwards from there with tackles for losses from Brocchini, Kyle McCann and Josiah Morales.
Hill picked off Hanford’s next pass in the end zone and returned it to the Hanford 35-yard line with less than a minute left in the half. However, a personal foul penalty moved the ball back to the Madera six-yard line, losing 59 yards in the process.
Nelson hit Velasquez out of the backfield for 14-yards. After a pass interference penalty, Hernandez rose up to bring down a pass at the 35-yard line for a 24-yard gain and a first down. Nelson threw incomplete near the end zone on the final play of the first half.
In the second half, both teams forced punts on the first possession. Hanford drove the ball inside the Madera 10-yard line.
Houston carried the ball to the eight-yard line. Codi Slayton and Cameron Lopez stopped Hanford quarterback Joseph Estrella for a gain of one. Ylarregui holds up Houston for a gain of two. On fourth-and-two, the Hanford snap went over Estrella’s head and Collier brings him down after a 19-yard loss.
After a trade in punts, the Coyotes begin to move the ball near the end of the third quarter. Nelson hit Espinoza for 18 yards and a first down. Nelson found Raeshaun Hill for nine yards and Regua carried for two and a first down.
Velasquez gained seven on a reception to the six-yard line. On the next play, Regua went up the middle and the ball was punched out of his grasp. Hanford recovered in the end zone and brought the ball out to the five-yard line.
The Bullpups gained three first downs out to the 40-yard line. After an incomplete pass, Gonzalez tackled Houston after a gain of six to bring up third down. Collier and Morales sacked Coller for a loss of four on third down and Hanford elected to punt. They wouldn’t see the ball again.
On third-and-10, Nelson hit Hernandez for 13-yards on the most important completion of the night. Saldivar then ran the clock out with carries of 9, 4, 13 and 11 yards to move the ball to the 21-yard line. Nelson took a knee on the next play to run out the clock.
“We always preach adversity,” Fares said. “We stare adversity in the face because with adversity, it gives us an opportunity to be great. We look at those situations as an opportunity to make something special happen and the defense rose up.”
The Coyotes will try for their third straight victory Friday, hosting the Merced Bears in the Governor’s Hat game.